Powers & Perils

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Powers & Perils, boxed set.jpg

Powers & Perils (P&P) is a role-playing game written by Richard Snider and published by Avalon Hill in 1983 as a boxed set.


Powers & Perils (1984) by Richard Snider was scheduled for release at Origins 1983; instead the convention was filled with empty demo rooms where the game was to have appeared, and the game finally rolled out early in 1984.[1] Powers & Perils was published by Avalon Hill as a boxed set containing five books (60 pages, 52 pages, 52 pages, 44 pages, and 24 pages respectively), a pad of character sheets, and dice.[2] Avalon Hill's house organ magazine Heroes supported Powers & Perils and the company's other role-playing lines.[1]


Powers & Perils is an exceedingly detailed fantasy system, with skill-based character abilities and a spell-point magic system.[2] There are five rulebooks: the 44-page "The Character Book" covers character creation, skills, and experience; the 52-page "The Combat and Magic Book" covers combat rules, movement, magic, and spells; the 60-page "The Creature Book" describes the surface and underworld, encounter tables, and fantastic creatures; the 52-page "The Book of Human Encounters and Treasure" covers NPCs, treasure, and magic items; and the 24-page "County Mordara" is an introductory scenario.[2]

A second boxed set contained information on the world, named Perilous Lands, in the form of three books: "The Map Book", "Sites of Power", and "The Culture Book". Subsequent expansions were printed in Heroes magazine and an adventure for high-level characters, Tower of the Dead, was released in 1984.


Powers & Perils was an unfortunate failure for Avalon Hill, despite their reputation for their high-quality productions; this failure was indicative of the company's lack of experience in the roleplaying field.[1] Powers & Perils included several drawings plagiarized from fantasy artist Frank Frazetta.[1] Avalon Hill had no previous experience with role-playing games, being primarily a producer of strategy and war games such as Tactics II, Blitzkrieg and Squad Leader, and Powers & Perils died before its time. Overpricing and strong competition from the first edition Dungeons & Dragons saw P&P on store shelves at two to three times the price being asked for its contemporaries.[citation needed]

Due to the general failure of Powers & Perils, Avalon Hill allowed the line to die after a few supplements were published in 1984.[1]


In the September 1984 edition of White Dwarf (Issue #57), Adrian Knowles gave it an overall rating of 8 out of 10, saying, "Overall, P&P introduces some nice ideas which can be adapted readily into other systems. The game is more suited to experienced players and GMs since it is fairly complex. In general, a greater amount of work than is normal for an RPG is needed for playing Powers and Perils, but it is a good system."[3]

In the October 1984 edition of Imagine (Issue 19), Mike Dean stated that "I have my doubts as to whether P&P will make it as a widely popular RPG, but I am sure it will gain a considerable and well-deserved following."[4]

In the January–February 1985 edition of Different Worlds (Issue #38), Troy Christensen was unimpressed, giving the game a below-average rating of 1.5 stars out of 4, and saying that the game "is lost in the limbo somewhere between the complexity of Chivalry & Sorcery and the simplicity of Dungeons & Dragons." Christensen found issues with character generation, which he said: "takes about ten times longer than most fantasy games." He then found combat too simplistic, and commented that "With a combination of simplicity and complexity mixed so unequally and haphazardly, the game seems ungainly and plays roughly." He concluded with a negative recommendation, saying, "Powers & Perils to me adds nothing beyond what I have found in other more established games."[5]

In a retrospective review in 1996, Rick Swan recalled that Powers & Perils had been the second-worst game he'd ever played, calling it an "incomprehensible role-playing game."[6]

Other reviews[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Appelcline, Shannon (2011). Designers & Dragons. Mongoose Publishing. p. 177. ISBN 978-1-907702-58-7.
  2. ^ a b c Schick, Lawrence (1991). Heroic Worlds: A History and Guide to Role-Playing Games. Prometheus Books. p. 201. ISBN 0-87975-653-5.
  3. ^ Knowles, Adrian (September 1984). "Open Box". White Dwarf. No. 57. Games Workshop. p. 13.
  4. ^ Dean, Mike (October 1984). "Notices". Imagine (review). TSR Hobbies (UK), Ltd. (19): 20–21.
  5. ^ Christensen, Troy (January–February 1985). "Game Reviews". Different Worlds. Chaosium (38): 29–30.
  6. ^ Swan, Rick (September 1992). "Roleplaying Reviews". Dragon. No. 225. TSR, Inc. p. 89.

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